Down in the city, Mato and her group were showing RWBY around, pointing out various areas and persons of interest.
In Ruby's opinion, however, the people they were walking with were of greater interest than their peers. "So, what do you guys do?"
Mato shrugged. "Eh, it's not really that exciting. I used to be a middle school student with Yomi, Yuu and Kagari until I met Rock. Mom works for Threshold General as a nurse."
"And I worked at that middle school as a therapist." Saya put in. "My specialty was negative reinforcement."
Mato rolled her eyes. "That's one way of putting it..."
"Yeah Saya, most therapy sessions don't conclude with the therapist choking out the recipient of said therapy," Yuu put in.
"I'm sorry, what?" Weiss nearly shrieked.
"Excuse me?!" Yang snapped.
Saya shrugged, entirely unaffected by the death glares aimed her way. "Like I said, negative reinforcement. And Rock got me back for that, as I recall."
"Oh, sure, it's not like I snapped in the process," Mato bit out with uncharacteristic vehemence, rings quickly sharpening into visibility in her eyes. "Best part of my bloody day was filling you full of bullets."
About all Ruby could do was stare. "Okay, I was a little put off before, but now I'm legitimately terrified."
Yomi sighed. "Honestly, that's… not uncommon, with Paradoxes. People are scared of us, and rightly so."
"It's the way we can fuck physics by walking down the street," Yuu added helpfully. "Seeing the impossible tends to freak people out if it's not happening on the other side of a screen. And it doesn't help that the most common ways that the Unformed spawn involve, well…"
It was at that point that all present felt a rumble.
Weiss turned her head to look at Yang without moving any other part of her body. "Tell me that was your stomach."
Yang shook her head. "No, that was definitely from… under… ground…?"
The street in front of the herd of hale and hearty Huntresses bulged up like it was made of dough rather than tarmac, before it tore with the sound of dying blue, disgorging a horde of the skeletons RWBY had run into in the forest and a singular one that was twice the height of the tallest nearby buildings.
"Yeah, that." Yuu summarized.
Mato closed her hand over the hilt of her blade. "You girls might wanna clear out. We've got this."
Ruby considered the last fight they'd gotten into with these things and found herself in agreement. "Let's go!"
The second the Unformed had burst their way into Remnant, alarms began to blare all over Threshold.
In the academy those students who could effectively combat the creatures were mobilized, those who couldn't were directed to stop more of them coming through. In the streets, civilians made for shelters marked with thirteen straight links of chain with a spike at one end, each specially warded for safety by Ram herself.
And in a complex that rested below the streets, two teenage girls settled onto separate motorbikes as they were prepped for combat operations, chatter flying back and forth across the air in what was for all intents and purposes and underground hangar.
"Black Bike fueled."
"All weapon systems primed, how copy?"
"Affirmative, all weapon systems go."
A teenage boy stepped up between the two rumbling machines as a section of the floor opened up just in front of him, allowing a pedestal holding two swords and a large cannon to rise into view.
"Disarm hatch. Release Black Arms."
The locks that kept the weapons in place disengaged with the hiss of hydraulics, and each teen reached out and grabbed a handle. The girl on the left took up a black, sawtoothed blade with a line of orange round the outside, the boy took up a red sword with a visible hinge at the hilt, and the girl on the left hefted the cannon into a specially designed rack on her own vehicle.
"Mission objective: Proceed to Academy Square, destroy any Unformed in your way and provide protection to Huntress diplomats."
The boy answered for all three of them. "I'm ready."
The two bikes roared away with a squeal of tires, while the boy took two running steps and boosted away with an aura of grey energy flaring about his body. The tunnel flashed by in the sharp beams from the overhead lights, and suddenly a shutter door was folding down and away and they were roaring down the city streets.
The boy grinned from within his energy aura as they caught sight of a swarm of Unformed that were more bestial in nature than their bipedal 'cousins.' "Let's rock and roll!"
"I wonder if this is what normal people feel like when they see us fighting Grimm," Yang idly wondered aloud.
Blake made a soft noise of consideration. "It's certainly an interesting viewpoint." She tilted her head, eyes drifting down the street. "There's something coming. A motorbike. And a… " She trailed off, mystified.
Weiss made to inquire further, but all talk was halted as the nearest cluster of Unformed was sent flying by a short, squat motorbike and what looked for all the world like a grey comet.
Ruby had to do a double take as the bike rolled to a stop. "Wha- Mato? I thought you were…" She turned to look.
Yang looked up at the giant skeleton. "Nope, she's definitely still up there, sis. So… who are you?"
The new girl dismounted her bike and saluted. "PCS Agent BRS two-zero-three-five." She cracked a smile. "Call me Stella." Her head whipped back around, shifting into the flow of battle in an instant. "On your left!"
The teen she had rolled up with, only a year or two older than Ruby, lashed out in that direction with a sword painted more red than black, sending a blast of misty grey energy through three of the walking bones.
"We'll talk later." Stella said bluntly, before diving back into the fray, blasting shells as big as her head from her cannon as she went.
Ruby took the opportunity to analyze the pair's styles, and what she found surprised her.
The boy was interesting to watch, to be sure. Fluid and sharp, alternating easily between sword strikes and blasts of that grey energy form one moment to the next, so fast and rapid that she was having trouble keeping track. In contrast, Stella's style was direct and brutally effective, what Mato might have been like if she weren't a complete monster, blasting targets with her cannon to send them reeling before slashing them into pieces with her blade when they weren't obliterated outright by the cannon fire.
But more than that, the pair worked together, flowed together, seamlessly. If she turned her back on a foe, he was there to guard it. If he was blindsided by an enemy, it wouldn't get the chance to hit him before she'd stuck her blade through it's face.
It was a danse macabre unlike anything the little reaper had seen or been a part of, and it awed and humbled and terrified her all at once, even more so than the Paradoxes had.
If someone so normal-looking can fight these things when we can't… just what kind of monsters are these people?
Up above, Mato surged through the air, taking in the battered form of the giant skeleton she and her friends had systematically torn to pieces. They'd done what they needed to do; now all that was left was to eliminate the threat, a task Mato was well suited for.
The katana in her grip gleamed, then burst into blue fire to match her eye.
This is true power. Not the pitiful Aura of the Hunters, not Ram's little games, not whatever meaningless plans possessed by those allied with the forces that seek Remnant's destruction-
The Flame surged, the Soul resonated with the Heart, and Mato moved -
And the Skeleton was gone.
Mato dropped to the ground without so much as a puff of displaced air, watching carefully as her friends took up positions around the rift. On an unspoken signal, they all struck a the edges of the rift with their weapons.
Mato provided the raw power, Yomi supplied the finesse, Saya enforced the authority and Yuu just went shove-
And the rift groaned shut with a sound like a pair of colliding yellow rockslides.
Job done, Mato turned to her lookalike as she walked up. "Nice work out there, Stella."
Stella gave a nod that was closer to a short bow. "Thanks, Mato. Do you think I'm getting better?"
Mato considered her. "Eh, Rock doesn't think so, but she's eaten things like this for breakfast before. By our standards, you're definitely a ways ahead of where you were the last time you asked." She clapped the younger girl on the shoulder with a grin, earning a bright smile in response.
"You're doing good too, Ren," She added, and Ruby had to look around because she was pretty sure JNPR hadn't accompanied them on this trip, but there was only the boy with the black and red outfit, grinning confidently and slinging his sword onto his back. "At this rate, you'll be up to twice your level of ass kicking by the end of the year."
"That's a hell of a compliment, coming from you," This new Ren said, entirely unfazed by the girl who could punt him through a city block with her little finger on a bad day.
"I'm sorry - "Weiss interrupted with a sharp look in several directions, "But who are you exactly?"
The new pair stood side by side.
"Agent BRS-2035. Stella."
"Agent ATG-2016. Ren Vortex."
"We're with the PCS," Stella explained. "It's sort of like a police force, but one that's been trained to deal with Unformed. We don't have Others, but we have weapons and abilities that can hurt them."
"All of which," Ren added, "Are highly experimental and highly classified. Appreciate the help, Mato, but we've got to get going."
The Shooter nodded. "I won't stop you."
The Agents roared away, and Yuu turned to the stunned Huntresses.
"So. Now that you know what we can do, let's go see what this Ozpin guy wants."